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At UN, Ban Said to Commend Syria, "Secret Suck Up" Like Sri Lanka?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 -- The ambiguous, some say shameful, role of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in today's UN came into relief Thursday when Syria's Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari told Inner City Press that, privately, Ban had "commended the Syrian government."

  This is at odds with public statements by Ban Ki-moon, such as that President Bashar al Assad had lost his sense of humanity. But placating -- or as some call it, sucking up to -- strongmen has become a Ban Ki-moon trait. As exclusively reported by Inner City Press, Ban berated his own staff for alleged unfairness in front of President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka, accused of killing 40,000 civilians.

  Inner City Press asked Ja'afari what he thinks of Ban Ki-moon's role, since Ban has acknowledged taking flights on jets owned by the Qatari government. "On other matters he says it's up to member states, but do you think he is operating differently on this, and if so why?"

  Tellingly, Ja'afari defended Ban, recounting what one wag characterized as Ban's secret Syria suck-up. More seriously, some take this to mean, Ban is so weak that all sides can claim him. Mubarak's ambassador Maged Abdelaziz publicly trashed Ban, and said much worse in private, Inner City Press is told -- and has been rewarded with the post of Special Adviser on Africa.

  Maged was still sitting in Egypt's seat in the General Assembly meeting on Syria on Thursday morning, of which UN TV televised the first part, but cut off just as Ja'afari began to speak for Syria. Many saw this as unfair or a form of censorship, another example of Banning of free press.

  At Thursday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky why UN TV had shown only some speeches, and not what Syria itself said. Nesirky said, as the PGA's spokeswoman had at some length, that it was an informal meeting, therefore not televised.

  Inner City Press asked, but why then was a portion of the informal meeting televised? Nesirky said, because there was public interest in it.

   But there was some interest in hearing from Syria, too, Inner City Press asked, trying to understand.

"You're not trying very hard," Nesirky said, "I've spelled it out twice."

 Inner City Press then asked if Ban had granted Ja'afari's request for a minute of silence for "all" the victims in Syria. Ban's spokesman would not answer, referring the question to the Qatari President of the General Assembly's spokeswoman. But it's a question for Ban: did he observe this moment of silent requested by Syria's government or not?

The reference above to Ban saying, on other matters, it's up to member states was Ban's response to what he thinks of having as a Special Adviser on Peacekeeping the Sri Lankan General Shavendra Silva, whose 58th Division is depicted in Ban's own Panel of Experts report as engaged in war crimes.

Ban wouldn't comment, saying it is up to member states. Most recently his Secretariat has tried to make it difficult or impossible to ascertain if Silva is, in fact, still attending the Special Advisory Group meetings. We may have more on this. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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